Mike Strange: What sport wins Tennessee's next national title?

Mike Strange

The book is closed on the 2012-13 college sports year. The final Gatorade shower belongs to UCLA, victors in the College World Series.

The title was the school’s 109th overall, and, by my math, will vault the Bruins ahead of Florida for second place in the all-sports Director’s Cup.

Stanford, forever excelling at sports such as swimming, tennis and water polo, had already clinched its 19th straight Cup.

After baseball is calculated, Tennessee will finish in the mid 30s, about the same as last year and nothing to brag about.

Every national title but four were won by the BCS conferences. The exceptions: the mighty Anteaters of UC-Irvine (men’s volleyball); Yale (men’s ice hockey); Princeton (fencing, field hockey).

And in case you missed it, in a tense battle in Canton, Mich., Nebraska edged Vanderbilt for its fourth bowling title in 10 years. Could this be the real reason the Big Ten poached the Huskers from the Big 12?

The SEC claimed six national titles: football and men’s golf by Alabama; men’s indoor track by Arkansas; women’s gymnastics by Florida; women’s swimming and diving by Georgia. Men’s outdoor track was a tie between Florida and Texas A&M.

Tennessee’s nearest miss was the runner-up finish in softball. Women’s swimming and diving got third.

Historically, UT claims 23 national titles. Four, however, are football years (1938, 1940, 1950, 1967) when someone else won the Associated Press vote that has come to be accepted as the more or less official champion. The Vols are universally acknowledged as football title-holders only in 1951 and 1998.

Eight of the titles come in women’s basketball, the most recent in 2007 and 2008.

Seven are from either indoor or outdoor track and field. Men’s cross country (1972) and men’s swimming (1978) stand alone.

The more intriguing discussion is which sport will produce Tennessee’s next national title, its first since women’s indoor track in 2009?

Softball, with two runner-up finishes in the past seven years, is the safest bet. But 2014 will be a rebuilding year.

A Final Four run in women’s basketball isn’t a stretch, even in the post-Pat Summitt era. UConn, however, will be a heavy favorite for a ninth title in 2013-14.

Men’s tennis has reached the NCAA quarterfinals three of the past four years, losing the title match in 2010. That’s staying in the conversation.

As for the big prize, the crystal footballs are piling up in Tuscaloosa. Tennessee has recently begun collecting bricks.

The hope is they build toward something with more sparkle.

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Comments » 31

SummittsCourt writes:

Women's basketball or softball is the safest bet as they are powerhouses in both. The softball team may "rebuild", but I don't think it will last long because there is a lo of talent still there and the #2 recruiting class coming in.

Basketball will have Mercedes Russell and should be competitive right away, but maybe not championship competitive until year 2.

Men's basketball has a good chance at a special year providing everything comes together. The talent is there to do some great things, so we shall see.

Football is 3 years away from being back on top and I believe they will be there.

Baseball - just making it to the SEC tournament will be a great success.

Soccer could surprise if the pieces all fall into place.

As far as the other sports, I don't follow as close to have an opinion.

vol98champ writes:

Summitts synopsis is probably as good a guess as any Vol fan could hope for, but mid 30's overall is pathetic. What happened to track and field and baseball? Once upon a time we were very good in those sports. I'm not going to name the next #1 team, but women's sports is the overwhelming favorite.

richvol writes:

Men's track and swimming has gone away. Hart needs to address this and stop fiddling around.

ktownorange32 writes:

We just gotta hold tight and support all sports UT has to offer. From football down to bowling, the athletes respond better to great fan support. For any of our school's sports.....show up if you have the time and root on whatever sport it is. I know no one can make it to everything, but if everyone tried to get to what they could.....it makes a huge impression on the athletes playing that sport and you can see it from our major programs. Football buckled in games that they didnt have fan support. the same applies for Bball. I saw nights that the upper level of TBA was just shut down. I've always said that the fans are the X factor. Help all these different sports out by supporting them and showing up to cheer for them. I promise, you pack a stadium, pack TBA, pack the bleachers at a track meet or swim event or soccer game, or even the back of bowling alley....... these athletes will respond to the love and perform better

Orange_Beach writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

bspurlingcac#225603 writes:

in response to richvol:

Men's track and swimming has gone away. Hart needs to address this and stop fiddling around.

Both swim programs are on the the way up. The Women's program (3rd at NCAA'S)may be our next NC team.

brokendownoldvol writes:

Probably some women's sport. Seems to be easier to win.

NashvillePreds writes:

Men's Tennis, as Sam Winterbotham continues to build a powerhouse.

Go Vols

tvol71 writes:

They should get rid of the sports where only a few schools participate, such as fencing, water polo, etc. That is the only reason Stanford wins it regularly. At least 50% of the schools should participate in the sport for it to count.

tvol71 writes:

As far as bricks are concerned, got to start somewhere. I can't say that he will bring a national championship, but I believe Jones will return us to national prominence given a little time (3 to 4 years).

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

GO VOLS!!!

VolzsFan writes:

In football, the recognized National Champions historically by everyone outside of Alabama, are the AP, UPI, BCS, ESPN and Coaches. When you count them up by year, that is what you see for example when they say Alabama went ahead of ND this year by one to give it 14 titles I think it is. Not 38 like those people say.

By the standard the world considers, UT has two titles as Mike here said, 51 and 98. But the 51 team lost the bowl game. BTW, the team they got beat by (USC) was the only team they played that year ranked in final Top 25. If they did it right at all back then and waited till bowl season, UT would have just one NATIONAL TITLE and that would be 1998!!

War Hall of Famer!!

Enjoy the change.

VolzsFan writes:

in response to tvol71:

As far as bricks are concerned, got to start somewhere. I can't say that he will bring a national championship, but I believe Jones will return us to national prominence given a little time (3 to 4 years).

LOL....This program has only had legit National Prominence during the great Phil run. It will be decades before you see anything good here over time. It will never be another run ever close to the great Phil run.

Enjoy the change

PHAT_VOL writes:

Mumblety peg comes to mind! Mr. Hart should like it. All you need is a pocket knife and a stump. Being Alabama Dave he should know the rules. The Mumblety Peg VOLS has a nice ring to it.
GO VOLS!!

PHAT_VOL writes:

A Mumblety peg action shot!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mum...

TommyJack writes:

Lots of doofuses still on here, I see.

SummittsCourt writes:

Lots of trolls who need to stop being so childish.. oh wait, they can't help themselves because they are childish and immature punks who can't get out of their mommies basements to get a real life.

60s70s80s90s00s10sallvol writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Lots of doofuses still on here, I see.

Once again TommyJack (long time no see) voices my opinion. It is definitely a slow time in the world of sports.

tovolny writes:

I thought I saw this article about 2 months ago. ??????

tarter_sauce writes:

the same moron tooting Fulmer's horn under many different screen names , how funny , and sad .

SevenT writes:

Does UT have an official "but-chugging" team? I heard they were champs at that event.

Just Saying

rockypop writes:

Is a national championship the only yardstick for measuring a college team's athletic success? This kind of talk is absolute drivel when considering what Tennessee needs to do to become competitive again in the SEC - much less nationally, in every sport.

NCs are awfully hard to come by - in any sport. Just ask Vanderbilt's No.1 - ranked baseball team this year. There are a ton of college teams that have been outstanding in the modern era with no NCs.

I think the current UT athletic administration needs to define what the expectations are with regard to performance expectations. Before Hamilton left, he set expectations for football as winning a minimum of eight games a season. I've never seen a quantitative expectation for any other sport.

UT has always had superior athletic facilities and above average fan support, but not much return for them on a consistent basis lately. Perhaps, expectations need to be realigned to match the fan reality that exists in college athletics, which is: be patient; be grateful for the opportunity to be exposed to world-class college sports; support the kids in spite of the administration & circumstances, and if a championship should come your school's way, savor it - it won't likely happen again any time soon.

claiborneh writes:

Tiddlywinks

rockypop writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Where in my post do I make the case for "being simply competitive?" Any team and fan base wants championships. My point is that annual expectations for national championships in any sport are overly ambitious - for any school. And, by the way, with all of Fulmer's 10-win seasons, there was a NC. If you can't enjoy the ride, get off of it.

tarter_sauce writes:

in response to SevenT:

Does UT have an official "but-chugging" team? I heard they were champs at that event.

Just Saying

interesting that your curious about that , maybe if you look around you can get a used funnel or two . but hey , i try not to judge . bottoms up , literally ! lol

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Name the last program that went from 5-7 to a National Championship.

Being realistic isn't being against one's alma mater.

Oh, wait.. I forgot. Tennessee isn't your alma mater. You never even attended a class. Maybe never even set foot on campus?

You're a wannabe and a neverwas.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to tovolny:

I thought I saw this article about 2 months ago. ??????

They ran one of their silly "push polls" earlier this month. It's summertime; they have to come up with something to write.

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to shiftb:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, actually the question was: Name the last program that went from 5-7 to a National Championship.

And you can't answer it... because NO PROGRAM has ever done that. But anybody who recognizes this in your self-professed esteemed presence is denigrated as being willing to accept mediocrity and/or being a CDD "lover".

You're a joke. Do your parents realize this as well, which is why they give you an allowance?

BolivrBob writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Lots of doofuses still on here, I see.

True that Teej

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

I'm just hoping for a bowl trip this year..GBO!!

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to 9willbesofine:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

CHUMP

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